The Pirate Party urges caution following the announcement by the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, that retrospective legislation will be introduced to criminalise the re-identification of de-identified government data. The threat of retrospective legislation may be a ploy to silence critics of the government for discussing flaws in government-published datasets without due process. Consequently, this may prevent anyone bringing security flaws in government practices to attention — including the attention of the Government.

In a media release issued on Wednesday afternoon[1] the Attorney-General announced his intention to introduce new laws aimed at protecting data published by the Government. These changes appear to completely miss their mark, and may in fact criminalise the inspection of datasets for flaws and faults. The broad terms of the proposal could easily implicate any researchers in the field of data anonymity — anyone whose research involves examining datasets for potential privacy flaws.

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With fresh moves afoot to remove the words insult and offend from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act[1], the Pirate Party calls upon Parliament to get serious about supporting free speech.

“Pirate Party Australia is well aware of the risks around state censorship of opinions,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “We fought the Internet censorship laws of the Rudd Government and we opposed the Gillard Government’s attempt to extend section 18C in ways that would have banned causing offence on the grounds of religion and political opinion.”

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Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks have for many years generated some of the largest profits in Australian corporate history[1]. During this time repeated scandals have emerged across a range of services and financial institutions, and the evidence is clear: something is systemically wrong.

Investment fraud, refusal to pay out genuine insurance claims, alleged Ponzi schemes and ASIC investigations into the rigging of inter-bank lending rates are among the many scandals[2][3][4][5]. In addition, the Australian Federal Police has failed to promptly investigate what appear to be blatant breaches of UN sanctions for the purposes of future monetary gain[6].

These scandals are unacceptable to all Australians and institutional corruption is at risk of taking hold. A Royal Commission is needed to rid the financial and banking sectors of unethical behaviour before it leads to a major crisis.

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Late last night word trickled out that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was finalised. This trade agreement represents many of the darkest wishes of multi-national corporations intent on using regulatory capture in the United States to drive the global trade agenda. The text of the agreement is still secret and will not be released for perhaps another month[1].

"Civil society has been kept at arms length from the negotiations, with access to the draft texts only being granted to major corporations. The fact that the text is not immediately available gives us some insight into just how bad this agreement could be," said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. "We demand that the text be immediately published so the Australian people can see what has been negotiated on our behalf and judge whether this is something that will benefit all of us or just a wealthy few."

Much of what is known about the TPP has been exposed through leaks, painting a bleak picture for the future of signatory countries. The leaks indicate draconian intellectual property provisions, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals and poor environmental and worker protections. 

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A recent study[1] commissioned by the Queensland Government has found irreversible damage has been caused by the release of toxic chemicals and gases into the local environment near Chinchilla. The study indicates that the experimental plant run by Linc Energy is by far the most likely culprit. The Pirate Party, whose official policy includes a moratorium on coal seam gas (“CSG”) extraction[2], believes that this damage is unacceptable and that all CSG extraction should cease until the risks involved are properly understood and protected against.

The Pirate Party is also concerned (although unsurprised) that, while the study has been released to Linc Energy, it has not yet been released to nearby farmers and landowners. Notes released by the ABC detail “explosive levels” of hydrogen, and also highlights that four researchers were hospitalised while testing at the site, most likely due to elevated levels of carbon monoxide. The Pirate Party believes that landowners must immediately be made aware of the presence of dangerous levels of toxic chemicals and gases.

Pirate Party Deputy President Michael Keating commented: “State and federal government preference for mining over food production is dangerously shortsighted. Coal seam gas extraction risks agricultural land for short-term economic benefit and, as this report demonstrates, the risk is just not worth it. With a growing population and increasing risk of drought from climate change, gambling with agricultural land is folly.”

“This one incident has impacted hundreds of square kilometres of agricultural land. We cannot afford to keep losing prime farming land to these experiments, not when the lives and fortunes of our farmers are at risk. Our governments must step in to secure the safety and livelihood of our farmers,” Mr Keating continued.

The Pirate Party remains committed to the environment and ecology of Australia, and supporting the livelihoods of Australian farmers.